The conflicts are destined to happen, and everyone may feel as though they are not getting what they want. So what can parents do to bridge the generation gap and decrease some of these conflicts?
1. Pick your battles. The old saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is especially important here. Decide what really matters and what things you feel you need to put your foot down on and what things are irrelevant and you can let slide. If you can do this, everyone wins.
2. Provide information. Some of the basic fundamentals of parenting are the same, and there have been many changes. Calmly and politely explain and discuss why you may be doing things as they are. Information can promote respect. Give information that supports your stance.
3. Meet halfway. Take note of where you are willing to compromise. Again, if you can do this more often, everyone feels like they are being heard and getting what they want.
4. Hear them out. You don’t have to agree with everything your parents, the grandparents, say. You DO have to listen to what they are saying and decide what you want to do with the information. If you reject it outright, you may miss something important.
5. Stand your ground. If the grandparents are being unreasonable, in your opinion, point out (respectfully) that you child is doing well with the choices you are making thus far. This may not be taken well, but, at the end of the day, the limits and rules are yours to enforce and follow. Once everyone is calmer, sit down and discuss the situation and why things are as they are.
When all is said and done, the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is incredibly special and wonderful. It’s important to foster it in the best way you can, while still feeling that you are respected and your rules are enforced. If some rules are not, let it go. It can be a special situation that ONLY happens with grandma and grandpa, and that can be really wonderful.
Hartstein is a child and adolescent psychologist and is a regular correspondent for The Early Show. She has also appeared on Fox News, The Today Show and Headline News.
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